Aspen Achievement Academy
FamilyLight sm:Successor to "Bridge to Understanding sm"
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FamilyLight sm now recommends against referring to or enrolling in any Aspen or CRC Health school or program due to what the closing of New Leaf of North Carolina says about the value system of that company. For detail, see Tom's blog for May 2010.
This program is one that FamilyLight sm holds in high regard. We planned to review it in greater detail in the future, however, recent events at New Leaf, North Carolina have changed our plans. Although we have been critical of the parent company, CRC Health Group and the Aspen Brand within that company, this program appears to us to maintain very high standards. It is a very basic clinical wilderness program, extremely well managed. The problem is, we can't trust the degree to which higher authority might interfere with the program.
Some information follows below:
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Briefly, Aspen Achievement is the program described in the book Shouting at the Sky by Gary Ferguson. Since that book was written, this program has intensified its therapeutic capacity. The Executive director is Gil Hallows. Incidentally, he is a much nicer, warmer person than that picture makes him appear. Gil is undoubtedly one of the most experienced and most capable people in this business nationally.
This program puts great emphasis on the people in the program not seeing signs of the modern world or civilization during their stay (except emergency radios). Even cars and trucks arriving at field locations to drop food off park out of site of the participants. We do see advantages to that. However we think the worthy competitors whose policies allow therapists to override routine practices and, for example will allow participants when indicated to speak with a person back home by satellite phone or will transport a participant to participate in a specific activity with another group, if, in the therapist's judgment there is good reason to make these exceptions.
Many responsible people would disagree with us on the relative importance here. This is a very well run program to which we have referred and would do so in the future. This and Adirondack Leadership Expeditions are the two Aspen wilderness programs we had been actively using, along with Second Nature, Aspiro, and Elements.
While you wait for us to present a more complete review, please look around this website. Look at our Guidelines -- a fairly comprehensive statement of what we believe quality is all about. If you come to a search and planning process with limited experience, this is an opportunity for you to find some principles to measure schools and programs against.
Keep coming back to see the updates. Look at "What's New" (Announcements). In spring of 2009 we expect to have returns from schools, programs, and related organizations published, giving deeper insight into these than has ever been available on the web before.
Feedback is invited. We will publish any feedback in good taste. Email FamilyLightResponse@yahoo.com
Disclaimer: No program review, no matter how positive, is a blanket endorsement. No criticism is a blanket condemnation. When we express our level of confidence in a school or program, that is our subjective opinion with which others might reasonably disagree. When we assert something as fact, we have done our best to be accurate, but we cannot guarantee that all of our information is accurate and up to date. When we address compliance with our guidelines, you need to remember that these are only OUR guidelines -- not guidelines from an official source. We have also set the bar very high, and do not expect any school or program to be in total compliance. It is not appropriate to draw a conclusion of impropriety (or even failure to live up to conventional wisdom) from our lack of confidence in a school or program or from less than perfect conformity to our guidelines. Some will say we expect too much. Readers are responsible for verifying accuracy of information supplied here prior to acting upon it. We are not responsible for inaccuracies.
Last updated 5-17-2010
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